At least 22 Americans were confirmed dead Wednesday in the wake of the weekend’s terror attacks by Hamas, the State Department said Wednesday.
“We lost 22 Americans,” Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken told reporters at Joint Base Andrews before flying to Israel. “That number could still go up. It probably will. At the same time, we have a number of Americans who remain unaccounted. We are working very closely with the Government of Israel to determine their whereabouts, and if they have been taken hostage by Hamas, to work to secure their release.”
The number of confirmed dead in the attacks continues to rise as fighting continues. Israeli authorities searched, and in some cases, took back by force areas where killing and violence happened over the weekend. Authorities now say 2,000 Israelis and Palestinians have died since Hamas led an air, land, and sea assault on Israeli towns on October 7.
Officials have begun calling the attack the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust.
As the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF, has opened up a campaign of strikes in Gaza in the days since the attacks, the UN says numerous civilians have died, and at least 11 staffers for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. UNWRA provides essential services like education and healthcare to the two million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip.
Israel has declared a blockade of the power and water of Gaza. CNN reported Wednesday that the only power plant still operating in the territory after the embargo was announced is now shut down.
As an American reaction, the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group arrived in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea on Tuesday, according to U.S. Central Command.
The Ford task force includes 8 squadrons of attack and support aircraft, the guided missile cruiser USS Normandy, and four guided missile destroyers: USS Thomas Hudner, USS Ramage, USS Carney, and USS Roosevelt.
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National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said that a second carrier strike group is also in the region, though no operational decisions have been made regarding the Eisenhower carrier strike group.
The Air Force has also sent F-15s, F-16s, and A-10s to supplement fighter squadrons already in the region.
The U.S. began sending munitions and other equipment requested by Israel, according to officials.
In public remarks Tuesday, President Joe Biden promised that the US would “make sure Israel has what it needs to take care of its citizens, defend itself, and respond to this attack.”
Blaise Misztal, vice president for policy at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America said items of interest to Israel include precision-guided munitions, small-diameter bombs, and joint direct attack munitions.
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